Can Mokuba patch things up with Seto before his graduation? More importanly, will any peace that they reach last?
I couldn’t believe it. I was graduating from high school. There was no longer any reason to hide from my friends that lived with my boyfriend—no reason why I should be sad. It had been a year since I had spoken to Seto, though, and it was beginning to catch up with me. I was beginning to think hard about my stubbornness when it came to my older brother. Not that I regretted my decision to remain with Jou—never that—but perhaps I shouldn’t have been so eager to become estranged. Maybe there was a happy medium somewhere—I just hadn’t pushed hard enough for it.
So I boldly sent Seto an invitation to my graduation.
“Good,” Jounouchi had told me, two weeks prior to the ceremony. “You can try to patch things up finally. You have no idea how many times I thought about sending you back to talk.” I frowned. “Don’t look at me like that, love. All I’m sayin’ is that as much as I love you, I have a little sister and I know that he’s feeling shitty about this, regardless how he feels about me. He’s hurt bad, Mokuba.”
I sighed, not willing to believe but knowing it to be true. “He watched me walk away, Jou.”
“It sounds more like an excuse every time I hear it.”
He was right, for course. But I defended myself. “Well, either I hurt him, or he was gonna hurt me more. I was only striking first.”
“Spoken like a true Kaiba,” Jounouchi said wryly.
“Jou? Are you with me against me?” I was becoming frustrated; Jounouchi was mocking me. That comment really hurt; I was nowhere near as cold or callous as my brother, and a comparison, even in jest, stung like a knife to the back.
“I’m for you trying to patch things up with Kaiba. I think you should take him that invitation personally.”
“Not if you’re not welcome.”
“Mokuba, stop using me as a crutch for your problems.”
“I am not—”
“Then go yourself.”
Later, Jounouchi told me he had decided he was going to study to become a lawyer. Perfect. Another person analyzing my every move. “But that doesn’t change a thing between you Kaiba,” he added. “All it does is give me a better venue to support you.”
I huffed, “We support each other,” I snapped. I had worked hard to make sure that I wasn’t a burden on Jou, and that was almost more of an insult than the Kaiba remark.
Jou flushed, upset that I had taken the comment so seriously. “I just…sorry…”
“You always think of me as a child,” I said irritably. “I don’t need you to take care of me. I have a job, and enough money to get my own apartment if I wanted—”
“I know,” Jou said. He was near me just then, settling himself beside me on the couch in the living room. He was trying to calm me down, I could tell. “Listen, Mokuba—”
“I’ve always been a burden for you,” I said, feeling my anger be replaced by sadness. “But I’m strong enough to be on my own now.”
“Are you saying you want to move out?” Jou frowned, and he hugged me. “I don’t want you to.”
I shook my head, leaning against Jou’s shoulder. “No, that’s not what I mean at all. I can’t stand being away from you, Jou…”
“Neither can I.”
“…Jou, I think we should half rent.” How this conversation got to the rent, or what I was thinking I’ll never know.
“Mokuba, this isn’t your—”
“It is my apartment!” I said loudly. “I’ve been living here for over a year. It’s ours now, Jou.”
He sighed. “Is that what will make you happy? Really? Is the rent really what you’ve worried about?”
I took a deep breath, and was preparing to tell him ‘yes’, but I couldn’t. I felt tears build in my eyes, and I whispered, shaking with sobs, “I want my brother back.” I hadn’t realized just how affected I’d been by the whole ordeal until I said those words out loud. I really missed Seto. And not having his acceptance made me feel like I was a burden on everyone else.
He stroked my back and said, “Then go see him.”
“I don’t want him if I can’t keep you. And I love the both of you, and…” I found, that all the frustration I had towards my predicament were crying themselves out of me. “I won’t let you go,” I sobbed, “I won’t.”
Jou looked at me, and I could feel how much he loved me and care d for me and wanted everything to be alright. “I know. I’m not asking you to. Just try. If you never give up on him, Mokuba, then you won’t feel bad about this.”
“Please,” I said sarcastically. “There’s no way I can—”
“Stop this. Aren’t you tired of feeling so bad? Feeling like you’ve abandoned him?” He paused. “I don’t even like Kaiba, and I feel bad for him.”
I nodded. “Promise me I won’t lose you,” I choked, clutching at his shirt. “And I’ll go see him.”
Jou kissed me. “I keep telling you I’m not going anywhere. I promise forever. And I mean it. I love you.”
“Me, too,” I sniffed.
“…why are you so afraid of losing me?”
I thought about it, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything. It was just this feeling that was in the pit of my stomach whenever I worried about something. I just didn’t want to mess this up. What I had with Jou was so wonderful, and he cared not only about me, but my relationship with Seto. What if I did something to disappoint him? To make him want to leave me because…no matter how hard I tried to fight it, I was still a Kaiba? All of these questions were bothering me, but I didn’t dare put words to them. “…I don’t know. I just—” I began wiping my tears away.
“I love you,” Jou said forcefully. “And I am not going anywhere without you.” I nodded. “Not even Kaiba will take you from me.”
“If you really knew, Mokuba, you wouldn’t be so scared.” I didn’t reply. “Go see him.”
I was nervous, very nervous, as I approached the guard for the main gate entrance to the Kaiba Mansion estate. Immediately, the man recognized me. “Young Master!” he said. “I haven’t seen you—”
“In a year,” I finished, putting on my best fake smile. “Yes, it has been a while.”
“A year? Where have you been? Of course, the Master tells us nothing.”
My smile became genuine as I thought of Jou. “I’ve been…trying to go out my own.”
The man smiled. “You are at that age, aren’t you? I’m sure the Master misses you. Go on in.”
There was a short but long-stretching road that led to the front door. I shook my head, remembering how easily I had climbed this space when I was younger. Reaching the door, I found that it was open. Apparently, everyone had been alerted of my arrival. Maids, servants, and guards whom I had known for years greeted me, smothering me with hugs, kisses, and good wishes as well as congratulations. Some of them actually knew that I was graduating. As they did this, we constantly moved in the direction of Seto’s office, where he usually met with visitors. As we walked, and I answered caring questions and dodged the prying ones, I realized that Jou had been right; I couldn’t allow myself to give up on Seto. If he decided to refuse me, it would be on his conscience, but I could not let myself continue to sink into bouts of depression like I had the day before. I would not live my life with constant guilt.
We arrived before Seto’s Office doors. Seating myself in a chair as one of the maids rushed to alert Seto of my presence, I heard her happily cry, “Oh, Seto-sama, it’s the young Master!!”
Seto muttered something that Mokuba couldn’t hear, and shooed her away. The maid returned, skulking. “He’ll be a moment,” she said. “The rest of you should go back to work. Seto-sama does not appreciate the ruckus.” The other help slowly drifted away, understanding silently that Seto was not welcoming back Mokuba happily. They cast sad glances at Mokuba as they left.
I waited nearly a quarter of an hour to see my own brother. It was excruciatingly irritating.
The same maid that had talked to Seto before ushered me in, and he was looking at what I was pretty sure was a contract. “Hi, Seto,” I said, sounding pretty cheerful in spite of myself. “It’s been a long time.” He seemed to look the same, and he glanced up at me briefly as though to confirm it. Same hair length; same outfit. “Have you gotten any taller?”
“Have you?” he shot back sarcastically.
But I had been ready for that. “Actually, yes. I’ve grown about three inches. I’m almost as tall as Jou. My hair’s longer, too.” I tugged at the long ponytail across my back.
Seto snorted. “What are you here for?” he looked at me. “I thought the mutt gave you everything you wanted.”
“The mutt’s name is Jounouchi,” I said proudly, “and he has given me more than I ever ask for.”
“I know what his name is.”
“He says hello, by the way. He keeps telling me that I should come home.”
“I guess he doesn’t love you that much, then, if he’s trying to be rid of you.”
“Nah,” I shook my head, trying not to let Seto’s arrogant comments get to me. “He feels bad about how I’ve treated you. He says you didn’t deserve it.” This seemed to grab Seto’s attention; he faltered. “I am here, in any case, because I want to invite you to my graduation ceremony. Regardless of our disagreement, it is important to me that you be there. I really regret not speaking to you for such a long time. I miss you, Seto,” I said.
I meant it.
“Why don’t you come home, then?” he asked quietly.
“Because I’m old enough to be on my own, now, and I’ve told you that I can’t leave Jou to come home. I loved it here, Seto, but—”
“He’s more important,” Seto finished.
“I would like to think that you are both equally important indifferent ways.”
“You made your choice.”
“You forced me to choose,” I said calmly. “It wasn’t necessary. You’re my brother, Seto, but I can’t live my life the same way you lived yours. We’re different people. There are more people in the world than you and me.”
With a reminiscent look in his eyes, Seto replied, “There didn’t used to be.”
“I’m not twelve anymore, Seto. I’m almost eighteen. I don’t think that way anymore.”
“Apparently; your thinking is so different that you decided that you were gay and in love with the mutt all in one fell swoop.”
“Is that what this is about?” I crossed my arms. “Really, Seto?”
My brother paused. “Yes and no.”
“Seto my preferences aren’t something you should hate me or push me away for. I almost killed myself when Ieft this house.”
“You wouldn’t come out of your room. Your decision.”
“True, Seto, but we could have talked about it. You could have gotten me to come out if you wanted.”
“I wasn’t going to even consider you going out with Jounouchi Katsuya, the infamous second-rate fuck up who couldn’t pass a test to save his life. Sorry.”
I gritted my teeth. “That’s who Jou used to be. People change, Seto. Did you know that Jou is going to start Law school?”
Seto scoffed. “A lawyer? I wish.”
“My point, Seto, is that he is not the same.”
“You can’t change who you are.”
I fell silent; the insult that was poised on my tongue wasn’t voiced; I knew that if I had said it, I would have broken the entire atmosphere. I settled for sighing. When I finally had gotten a hold on myself, I said, “Why won’t you believe me? Surely you don’t lack so much faith in me that you wouldn’t trust the decisions I make?”
“I used to have faith in you, Mokuba; until I found out that you were so sentimental. Never in my years at KaibaCorp did ever anticipate you disowning the Kaiba family name and business for some boy. A fuck up, at that.”
“I didn’t disown you. I’m right here, aren’t I?”
Seto sighed. “You’ve proved your point, Mokuba. You can live your life on your own. You can survive without me. You’ve won. Why won’t you just stop playing House and come home?” I was actually surprised that he admitted that I had bested him in any way. Seto was reluctant to do that with anybody, and I was no longer on the list of exceptions.
“Because, Seto, I am not playing anything! My feelings for Jounouchi are real, and I am no longer in the position where I want to come home!”
“Yes, really. Why can’t I just work for a KaibaCorp like a regular employee? If you want me to come back, I can do that. I’ll have my own house, and I can come to work and be punctual like everyone else.”
“You aren’t everyone else, Mokuba! You’re my brother.”
“Who happens to have grown up now, Seto! I can still be your brother and have my own life!”
Seto grunted. “Fine. Have things your way. Pick up an application.”
“If you want to be treated like a regular employee, you will fill out an application with your credentials and send it into the Hiring department at KaibaCorp, just like everyone else.”
I was seething. Seto already knew my credentials, and he was only doing this out of spite! “I will,” I said confidently, “because I know that I have more experience than any of those thieving, money-grubbing idiots who work for you now! How many of your employees have previous experience with your company before they even apply?”
“Well said, Mokuba,” Seto smirked, not looking at me.
I calmed myself down. “Planning my future at KaibaCorp was not the intention of my visit. I am inviting you to my graduation. Are you going to be there?”
“Is the mutt going to be there?”
“He is not a mutt, Seto. And he might, if he isn’t working…”
“He would let his mediocre job keep him from you?” The question was meant to hurt me.
“He’s not rich like you, Seto. We have to work to keep out apartment.”
“Like us, Mokuba. You’re detaching yourself from the Kaiba name, again.”
“Because in this case, I don’t need it. I pay for my things by working.
“And I don’t?”
“You’re just stalling,” I said, “Are you going or not?”
I was left with the promise of Seto’s “attempt” to attend my graduation, and he shooed me away like an unwanted housemaid. When I came back home to Jou, he was in the kitchenette, sipping a cup of coffee. “How’d it go?” were his first words.
“Good and bad,” I said.
“The bad?” Jou offered me a sip.
I took it, gulping down the warm liquid. “That he said he’d try to come. Didn’t commit. And he still has a problem with my dating you.”
“The good?” Jou said, smiling awkwardly and crossing his fingers.
“I think I know why he was opposed in the first place. I was growing up too fast, apparently.”
Jou laughed. “You’re almost eighteen, Mokuba. What did he think you were going to do?”
I smirked. “What do you think Shizuka’s going to do?”
He scowled. “Never grow up.”
“Exactly. She’s already twenty, Jou. When are you going to give up?”
“What is it with brothers?” I said aloud.
“At least you’re talking,” Jou said.
“I guess,” I shrugged. But Jou smiled; he knew how happy I really was about it.
I won’t bore you with the details of my graduation, because it was lengthy, and strenuous; just know that I gave the greatest valedictorian speech ever, about…growing up and stuff (honestly, I didn’t believe half of what I said) and had to stop myself several times before I began to scan the crowd for Seto; I promised myself I wouldn’t—I didn’t need him there…
I just wanted him there really, really badly.
In any case, Jou, accompanied by Yuugi and the others, were the first to congratulate me. Anzu was dressed in a stunning blue dress, and Otogi, Honda, Yuugi and Jou were attired in strangely professional suits. It was weird seeing them in all that. Ties and the whole shebang.
It didn’t take the long before the ladies were pinning Otogi down.
I sighed at my graduating class of saninsei and said to Yuugi, “Do you think that they’ll ever really grow up?”
“You did,” he said wisely. He smiled. “I’m proud of you. You were better than Jou and I.”
I rolled my eyes. “I worked my ass off, I admit. But I wanted to impress Jou and Seto, really.”
“He’s here, you know.” Yuugi whispered.
“Really?” Jou interrupted, turning away from Anzu. “I was trying not to look for him.”
“Me, too,” I said.
“He was really obvious,” Yuugi said. “It’s not like The CEO of Kaiba Corp can be conspicuous. Everyone knows who he is. I don’t think I saw him leave…”
I smiled. “Well, if he doesn’t say hello, at least we saw him. Or you did, Yuugi.”
“He had a camera. He took a picture. I’m so short, I guess he didn’t see me looking at him.”
That surprised me, utterly. “A picture?”
“Just one. He took it while you were giving your speech.”
I shook my head. I couldn’t imagine Seto being so ‘sentimental’ that he would desire a picture of me. I sighed again and said, laughing, to Jou, “You know what comes next, right?”
Jou looked at me, eyes wide, “What?”
“We can get married, Jou!” He paled. I laughed a little. “Is it really that horrible a prospect?”
Yuugi said awkwardly, “…Jou has a thing about marriage…”
“What, that he’ll be tied to me for life?” I asked sarcastically.
Jou looked everywhere but at me. “Nah. I hate public ceremonies. I fainted at my graduation. Couldn’t stand it.”
Yuugi shrugged. “More or less.”
“It could be a small party,” I said thoughtfully; I was joking at first, but now I was beginning to think seriously about the idea. “We can’t be officially married anyway, so it doesn’t have to be extravagant…”
“You’re serious?” Jou asked, catching onto my mood.
“Maybe. Why not? Wouldn’t you want to spend the rest of life with me?” I asked seriously.
“Yeah…but should we really be discussing this now?”
“Yes,” I said, “because it’s important, and—”
“I came,” said a deep voice behind Jou. Jounouchi turned, frozen to the spot, and I smiled as I faced Seto.
“Huh?” I said.
“I came, Mokuba,” he repeated. “I suppose you deserve congratulations.”
Everyone around me stopped speaking, even my classmates.
“Thank you,” I said weakly. “I’m glad you came.”
Jounouchi seemed to not know what to do with himself, stuck between Seto and me. It was then that I realized how awkward his position must have been over past year. To be the thing that separated me from my brother. How did Jou feel? I wondered if I had abused him in some horrible way.
Seto began to walk off without another word, and choking back first tears of the day, I said, loudly, “I love you, Jou!” and hugged him so hard that he told me he couldn’t breathe.
I remembered, as my face was slung over Jou’s shoulder, that Seto and kept walking. Over the entire course of my relationship with Jou, that was precisely what he had done—he had avoided us, and pretended that we didn’t exist. Even as I cried for Jou, I smiled—
Because through blurred tears, I saw Seto, who was cold, emotionless, and unbreakable…
… look back at me.